The international community will not abandon the Afghan people was the clear message sent from the NATO Chicago Summit this week, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
In his latest Afghanistan monthly progress report Mr Hague updated Parliament via a written statement on progress for April. Although he said he will provide further details on the Chicago Summit in the May report he did say:
At the NATO Chicago Summit on 20 and 21 May, the international community demonstrated its enduring support to Afghanistan beyond the end of security transition. Plans were discussed for future funding of the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and NATO’s post-2014 role was agreed.
This sent a clear message to the Afghan people that we will not abandon them, and a clear message to the insurgency that they cannot wait us out.
On violence levels in April Mr Hague said:
Now that spring has arrived, insurgent activity across Afghanistan has continued to increase. This is in line with historic and seasonal norms. While violent incidents in April were comparable with April 2011 levels, it is significant that year-to-date figures remain lower than in 2011.
These trends remind us that there is still work to be done, but also reflect the high tempo of operations in the country as the Afghans, supported by ISAF, continue to exert pressure on the insurgency.
Regional Command (South West), which includes Task Force Helmand in the UK’s area of operations, saw a steady increase in insurgent activity in the first half of April. However, in the second half of the month enemy activity decreased due to the onset of the poppy harvest.
This temporary lull in activity is expected to last into early May, after which point we can expect to see a gradual increase in violent incidents, with activity peaking during the summer months.
In Helmand province, insurgents conducted an attack on the Musa Qal’ah district police headquarters on 11 April. The attack resulted in the deaths of nine members of the ANSF and injured the district chief of police.
The incident is the latest in a series of attacks and assassination attempts on government and security officials across Afghanistan and illustrated insurgent intent to target those who most threaten their campaign.
On the growth and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces Mr Hague said:
At the NATO Joint Foreign and Defence Ministers Meeting on 18 April, the UK announced a contribution of £70m per annum to help fund the Afghan National Security Forces for a period after our forces withdraw from their combat role at the end of 2014.
This funding will be kept under review and will contribute to a wider $4.1bn fund that is being raised by the Afghans and the wider international community.
The majority of contributions are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The UK’s contribution will be provided in addition to our lead supporting role at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.
Mr Hague also reiterated that, on 13 May, the Afghan Government announced the areas to be included in Tranche Three of the transition process. This tranche includes Nahr-e Saraj, which is in the area of UK operations. He added that he will be reporting more fully on the detail of the Tranche Three announcement in the May report.
He referred also to the G8 Summit on 18 May, where he said Heads of State endorsed the Tokyo Conference process that will produce a blueprint for Afghanistan’s sustainable economic development for the ‘Transformation Decade’ (2015 to 2024). He added:
Heads of State looked forward to making long-term commitments at Tokyo, and emphasised mutual accountability and governance improvements, building on the agreements reached at the Bonn Conference last year. The G8 also agreed to support efforts to encourage private sector investment in Afghanistan and the region, and to increase regional integration and trade.
We now look forward to the Tokyo Conference in July when the international community and the Government of Afghanistan must agree long-term mutual commitments for the Transformation Decade, with concrete pledges from donor partners for at least the period 2015 to 2017. It is vital that we and our international partners help to provide continuity through to the point of transition and immediately beyond.